Pools more than 2 feet deep must be fenced in

by Sarah Fay Campbell

Some small, above-ground pools will be required to be fenced now that the state of Georgia has adopted the 2012 version of the International Residential Code for One and Two Family Dwellings, and made the appendix regarding swimming pools and hot tubs mandatory.

The new swimming pool and hot tub regulation sets the definition of swimming pool as anything more than 24 inches deep.

Coweta County’s regulations previously defined pools as those 48 inches deep or more.

On Thursday, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners voted to rescind the county’s regulation because it was in conflict with the state-required regulations.

All pools meeting the definition must be fenced, with a fence of 48 inches tall. Under the International Code, lattice can be used for the fencing — which was not allowed under Coweta County’s regulations. Additionally, under the new regulations, the height of the sides of an above-ground pool can be included in the height. In other words, an above-ground pool that is 36 inches tall will only need an additional 12 inches of lattice or other fence material above the sides of the pool.

For hot tubs, there is the option to use a cover in lieu of a fence. The cover must be fastened to the hot tub so that it can’t be removed by children, and must be able to support the weight of a 50 pound child and a 225 pound adult.

The cover must also be prominently labeled with a warning and message about the danger of drowning. The code is specific in that materials used for fences cannot be “climbable,” and discusses minimum spacing between the parts of the fence.

The code also requires that ladders to above-ground pools must be removed when the pools aren’t in use, or made inaccessible.

The new regulations will only apply to pools installed after Jan. 1, 2014.

Existing pools will be “grandfathered in” under the old regulations. However, in the case of temporary above-ground pools — that may be taken down in the winter and put back up in the summer — the new fencing requirements would likely apply, according to Coweta County Administrator Michael Fouts.

As with most county ordinances, enforcement will be based on complaints.

There was some discussion Thursday about the allowance for lattice fencing.

Commissioner Al Smith said that, to him, lattice doesn’t seem to be substantial enough “to be considered a viable fence for a swimming pool.”

Commissioner Rodney Brooks said he is concerned that some children could climb chain-link fences.

Though the county must adopt the minimum standards, it is possible to put in place tighter restrictions. Chairman Bob Blackburn directed county staff to look into possibly adding in additional restrictions.

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